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Wedding Cake Sustainability

Wedding Cakes and Sustainability

Wedding Cake Sustainability

Wedding cakes and sustainability

The impact of human activity on the planet is without a doubt one of the biggest challenges of our time. As business owners and creatives in the wedding and events industry, we have a responsibility to look at how we do business and put sustainable protocols and strategies in place to the greatest extent possible.

At Cove Cake Design we are committed to reducing the footprint created in making our wedding cakes. Our business is not perfect but we do believe that by being aware of the impact of what we do, and constantly trying to improve one step at a time, that we can be part of the movement that makes a difference. It can without doubt be a daunting task working out how to run a business in a more environmentally-friendly way. But we are constantly inspired by small changes other businesses make, so we hope that by sharing a few of the positive things that we are doing, that we may inspire others too!

What we are doing to be more sustainable

1. Saying no to fake tiers

Fake polystyrene tiers are a feature of many wedding cakes, creating the illusion of larger cakes without having too much cake to eat. It is an unnecessary waste of polystyrene, as these tiers inevitably get discarded after the wedding day. We no longer offer fake tiers even on request. We believe in real cake for the appropriate number of guests. Who wants fake cake?

Wedding Cake Sustainability

2. Minimal impact packaging

Thankfully as we deliver most of our wedding cakes ourselves using sturdy reusable cardboard boxes, we don’t have a lot of packaging in general. We do use packaging for a our wedding cake tasting experience. This has been minimised by packing cake samples in eco-friendly tissue paper inside recyclable cardboard boxes that are placed in an outer paper envelope (no need for padding).

Sustainable packaging

3. Considered ingredients

We try to buy seasonally and locally where possible. Irish dairy produce, free-range eggs and seasonal berries are a few of our preferences. We use chocolate from a source that commits to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers. We also offer a small range of vegan cake options (limited decorative options).

Sustainable Ingredients

4. Solar electricity

We have solar panels which provide some of our electricity, cakes literally baked by the sun, what could be better!

Unfortunately we don’t have capacity to get all of our electricity from our own source especially on darker winter days. On our to-do list is to switch to a green electricity supplier to provide the remainder of our electricity needs.

Wedding Cake Sustainability

5. Giving back

We are proud to have become a restoration member of Hometree, an Irish charity who’s aim is to establish and conserve permanent native woodland in Ireland, encouraging land regeneration and biodiversity through afforestation, restoration and education. On behalf of our customers, our membership funds the planting of 2 native Irish trees every month, sequestering 1kg CO2 every month.

Environment Cove Cake Design

 

 

 

 

Let’s not greenwash

While we are proud of being aware of the need to improve sustainability and make positive choices and changes in our business, we know that there is still lots more to be done.

Some of the things on our task list for 2022 include the following:

  • Switching to green electricity provider for our additional electricity needs
  • Reviewing our ingredients to assess whether further conscious improvements can be made in sourcing raw materials and supplies
  • Reviewing our processes to assess whether waste can be reduced. As an example we currently use plastic cake dowels and flower picks which are wasteful
  • Working with our suppliers to minimise packaging in the goods we purchase

Wedding Cake Sustainability

We would love to hear what other cake and wedding industry businesses are doing. It is through each other that we find inspiration. And as Anne Marie Bonneau said: ‘We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly’.

Suzanne, x

 

 

Chocolate wedding cake Cove Cake Design

Wedding Cake Flavour Combinations – How to Choose?

Chocolate wedding cake Cove Cake Design

How to Choose Wedding Cake Flavour Combinations

It is not so long ago that choosing wedding cake flavours was very simple. A generation ago fruit cake was the only choice. Even when I got married (16 years ago!) we had a simple selection of Lemon, Carrot or Fruit. Now, in running my own cake business I am passionate about creating wedding cake flavour combinations that delight and surprise guests. The only drawback being that for wedding couples there can be so many delectable wedding cake flavours they are left wondering how to choose?!

Chocolate orange hazelnut cake Cove Cake Design

My Top Tips for How to Choose Your Wedding Cake Flavour Combinations

With years of experience in the wedding cake business and a passion for creating cake flavours of taste, I am delighted to share with you my top tips for choosing your wedding cake flavour combinations.

1. Don’t have preconceptions about what wedding cake flavour combination you would like

Before having your cake tasting you may think that something like, for example, Red Velvet, which has been your favourite cake flavour since you were a child, is the only flavour you want to choose for your wedding cake. I would urge all clients to go into their wedding cake tasting with a blank slate. Your wedding cake designer has tried and tested combinations to create a wedding cake experience for you to remember. They may have a speciality combination which you have never tried before, but which may be exactly the right choice. Be open to new flavours and also consider the advice of your cake designer who knows what is popular with clients and guests alike.

2. Do always think seasonally when choosing your wedding cake flavours

I am a great believer in eating seasonally. Light fruity cake flavours such as Lemon Blueberry Lavender are always more appealing in summer, while we are drawn to richer and warming flavours such as Vanilla Chai Cinnamon Caramel in winter. So while you may be sampling cake at a different time of year to your wedding, do bear in mind what season your wedding will be in and choose flavours accordingly. Also consider if fresh fruit will be used in your cake and whether that fruit is in season at the time of your wedding. Fruit such as, for example, strawberries, will never taste as good when flown from the far side of the world as they do when they are locally and seasonally grown.

3. Choose a crowd-pleasing as well as a more adventurous wedding cake flavour combination for your guests

If you have the option of having two or more wedding cake flavours, it is advisable to choose one crowd-pleasing flavour combination that you know most guests will like, for example a Vanilla or Chocolate flavour. There may be guests, such as children, who would just like a simple cake flavour. However, do offer a wedding cake flavour that will also delight and surprise guests. Our Earl Grey Lavender Lemon or Coconut Passionfruit Black Sesame are two interesting combinations that are sure to offer a memorable wedding cake experience to your guests.

4. Consider guests with dietary requirements

At any gathering the chances are there may be someone, or indeed many people, who have specific dietary requirements. If you want to have a wedding cake flavour that satisfies these requirements it is nice to try and include it as one tier of the wedding cake itself. Do ask your wedding cake designer for advice. Certain cake flavour combinations will work better for different dietary requirements. For example chocolate cakes lend themselves well to gluten-free variations. Often using things like ground almonds as a flour substitute and with the richness of chocolate they can be readily adapted without compromising on flavour. It may be the case that the specific dietary requirements mean that the cake is not suitable for a tiered wedding cake design. In this instance consider mini cakes or single cakes with a dietary-friendly flavour.

5. Don’t forget to convey your delicious wedding cake flavours to your guests!

Once you have chosen your wedding cake flavour combinations don’t forget to convey these to your guests. It is easy to forget that while you will detect the subtle savoury notes in the Chocolate Blackberry Bay cake having had it at your tasting, your guests may not be quite able to quite put their finger on it. And having taken the time to consider your guests and choose flavours that will please them most, you also want to make sure that they know to leave room for delicious cake after dinner!

I have a few suggestions for letting guests know what wedding cake flavours you have chosen for them. The first is to add your wedding cake flavour combinations to your wedding dinner menu. The second is to have a specific wedding cake menu on display beside your cake. Finally wedding cake flavour cards beside each flavour as they are being served at an evening buffet allow guests to see the flavours and choose their favourite.

Wedding Cake Flavour Cove Cake Design

I hope this is helpful to wedding couples embarking on their wedding cake design process. If you were tempted by all this talk of cake, take a look at our menu for more wedding cake flavour inspiration!

Suzanne, x

 

Pretty sugar flowers Cove Cake Design

Should I Choose Fresh or Sugar Flowers for My Wedding Cake?

Pretty sugar flowers Cove Cake Design

Should I Choose Fresh or Sugar Flowers for My Wedding Cake ?

Flowers are widely used to adorn wedding cakes, and are definitely a signature feature of my designs. From just a few simple blooms to oversized arrangements, flowers can be added in a myriad of ways to create a style reflective of a client’s wedding day. One of the biggest decisions for my clients when ordering their wedding cake is often whether they should choose fresh or sugar flowers on their design. There are pros and cons to each which will ultimately determine which are most suitable for each individual client.

I have worked with fresh and sugar flowers throughout my years making wedding cakes. Here I am going to share my experiences in the pros and cons of each.

Ganache cake with edible flowers Cove Cake Design

Fresh Flowers

I looove the above example of a classic ganache-coated wedding cake adorned with fresh organic dahlias and roses, sprigs of rosemary, and macarons.

Pros:

  1. Cheaper: Fresh flowers are much cheaper than sugar flowers which is largely due to the time consuming nature of making handcrafted sugar flowers. If your budget is tight fresh may be the best option.
  2. Natural: Fresh flowers of always look beautiful and of course can smell amazing too, something which you can’t get from sugar flowers!
  3. Wedding flower continuity: By choosing fresh flowers you may be able to use those being supplied by your florist (provided they are food safe, see below), which ensures continuity throughout your wedding flower scheme.

Cons:

  1. May be unsafe for food contact: Not all fresh flowers are safe for contact with food. Many flowers from florists have been pesticide treated and some may even be toxic if ingested. You hence may not be able to use some, or any, of the flowers that you are using elsewhere for your wedding on your wedding cake. Be sure to check with your florist or wedding cake designer if your wedding flowers are suitable for use on food. There are many flower suppliers who specialise in organic flowers and supply non-toxic and edible varieties which are perfect for use on your wedding cake. Bumblebee Farm is one of my favourite suppliers in Ireland. Think of using herbs as a safe alternative to greenery too.
  2. Fresh flowers will wilt: Fresh flowers can only be added to the cake at the last minute as of course once out of water they will begin to wilt. If it is a warm day this may occur more quickly than desired.

White and green sugar flowers Cove Cake Design

Sugar Flowers

The above classic white wedding cake was designed for my branding photo shoot and features a variety of intricate sugar flowers in shades of green and white.

Pros:

  1. Food safe: As handcrafted sugar flowers are made from sugar, all are suitable for use on a cake. Those on a wire can be placed in a posy pick before being inserted into the cake. You can therefore have whatever flower types you want on your cake without restrictions. A flower type that is out of season, or one that you are using in your wedding flowers that is not food-safe, can be recreated in sugar and used to adorn your cake.
  2. Long lasting: Sugar flowers last for a long time. Not only will they not wilt while your wedding cake is on display, if they are removed carefully from your wedding cake and stored in dry conditions away from danger of breakage, you can actually keep them long after your wedding day.
  3. Works of art: Sugar flowers are work of arts, taking days of skill and love to make by hand. The will hence turn your wedding cake into a piece of art, that will be appreciated and admired by guests.

Cons:

  1. Expensive: Sugar flowers take hours. and more often days, to make, as each petal is cut and shaped by hand before the the flower is assembled and brought to life through dust colours. If choosing sugar flowers this time-intensive labour adds a significant cost to your wedding cake.
  2. Sugar flowers can break easily: Sugar flowers are very fragile and can break easily if knocked. This is something to take into consideration if you are collecting your wedding cake yourself, or if you wish to have your venue remove the flowers to keep for after your wedding.

Sugar flower wedding cake Cove Cake Design

So What is The Best Advice on Which Flowers to Choose for My Wedding Cake?

If your wedding cake budget is limited I would suggest organic food-safe fresh flowers for your wedding cake. Should food-safe options not be available, your cake designer should ensure that they do not come into contact with the cake. Alternatively, consider choosing an unadorned cake and creating a dramatic table arrangement or backdrop with fresh flowers from your wedding florist.

If you love the idea of having sugar flowers that will elevate your cake to a work of art, choosing just a few choice sugar flowers will work not work out hugely more expensive than a larger number fresh flowers.  If budget allows, going for a large adornment of sugar flowers will really create an incredibly beautiful centrepiece, and give you something that you can keep forever afterwards!

To see some fresh or sugar flower wedding cakes view more designs over in our portfolio.

Suzanne, x

 

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How to arrange sugar flowers Cove Cake Design

How to Arrange Sugar Flowers on a Cake -Top Tips

Arranging Sugar Flowers

How to Arrange Sugar Flowers on a Cake ?

There is no shortage of tips and tutorials on making sugar or gumpaste flowers, but somewhat less information is available on how to arrange sugar flowers on a  cake. I have taught many group and private sugar flower classes and whilst students always embrace exploring new techniques in making the sugar flowers, the actual arrangement of their creations on the cake is something that seems to strike fear. I can relate to that completely! In my early days of sugar flower and wedding cake making it was the part of the process that I least enjoyed, and decorating day was hence the most stressful. I was so terrified of breaking them and generally lacked confidence. I have developed techniques though, such that I can now arrange with my sugar flowers with ease. Sugar flower arranging for me is now something that is actually hugely satisfying. I hope to help others reach this stage by sharing my tips today on how to arrange sugar flowers on a cake.

Arranging Sugar Flowers

My Top Tips for How to Arrange Sugar or Gumpaste Flowers on A Cake

I am delighted to share with you here my top tips for how to arrange sugar flowers on a cake and hope that this will be helpful to sugar artists who are in the process of developing their sugar flower skills.

1. Source inspiration for your sugar or gumpaste flower arrangement

I have a Pinterest board where I save pins of flower arrangements which inspire me in creating arrangements of sugar flowers on my cakes.  I always look for something a little different, for example is there a flower protruding in an unusual way? Or indeed an unusual flower or element in the arrangement that could add interest to the sugar flower arrangement on the cake? Looking at arrangements can also give you an idea of the number and type of flowers you may need, and sizes or colours that work well together.  You may not always need to do this step. There may be times when you are happy to go for it and let your own creativity lead you in your arrangement, or indeed you may have a prior arrangement that worked that you can replicate on a subsequent cake.

2. Group your sugar or gumpaste flowers together in ‘micro’ arrangements

When I have all my sugar or gumpaste flowers made, dusted and steamed, I tape together the stems into little groups, or micro-arrangements as I call them. I may leave a larger flowers on it’s own, or at most attach a few little leaves to it. Smaller flowers, buds and foliage I tape into varied groups, some compact and short to perhaps fit into gaps in the sugar flower arrangement, and some longer and/or more sparse to add at the edges to give length and movement. I always leave a few stems loose too – they may need to be added onto an existing group or used individually at the end.

3. Make a mock-up of your sugar or gumpaste flower arrangement in advance

I generally make a mock sugar flower arrangement in advance, by loosely placing my flower groups on a piece of styrofoam or a dummy tier to see how they fit together. You can use your saved inspirational flower arrangement pictures as a guide.  I often do this the day before, or even a few days before, the final decoration of the cake, it makes it so much quicker and more stress-free to place your flowers on the cake on decorating day. It is also beneficial to do this at this stage so you can also check that you have enough flowers and fillers. Take care when making your mock arrangement, you don’t need to put the flowers too close together and risk breakage, it is just to get a general idea of what you are going to do before you put them on the cake.

4. Place your sugar or gumpaste flowers securely on the cake

When it comes to placing sugar flowers on the cake, take your micro arrangements and put them into appropriately sized posy picks (available from cake decorating stores, posy picks are to prevent contact of the wires with the cake). I often add a tiny piece of fondant paste into the posy pick to anchor the sugar flower stem and stop it moving around. I generally start at the centre of the planned arrangement, placing smaller pieces that are coming out from underneath first before placing larger flowers next, then work outwards. You may sometimes need to take a flower out again to allow yourself room to add in a filler before replacing the flowers. Always push the posy pick at an angle in to the cake, if you put it in vertically and too close to the edge you may push out some of the cake and break the outer icing. Push the pick in to the cake such that it cannot be seen, visible stems are however perfectly acceptable. If you have a particularly heavy flower that is placed close to the cake surface you can put some royal icing behind it for added security.

5. Don’t be afraid and allow yourself to be creative

I always suggest reminding yourself to relax when you are arranging your flowers on the cake, it can be stressful but trust in yourself! Stand back and see if your arrangement is as you wish, you may need to add or remove something that doesn’t quite look right. Bend stems and leaves to add movement and create a more natural feel. Don’t be afraid to let your creativity lose a little too.  And finally, don’t worry about any little breakages that occur in the process – remember real flowers are not pure perfection, a few small breakages can add to authenticity and no one will ever notice anyway.

6. Prepare your sugar or gumpaste flower arrangement for transportation

I generally arrange as much as I can before delivering the cake. I slip pieces of bubble wrap or kitchen roll in between any flowers that may knock off each other. Some buds and leaves can be bent out of the way for transport too and then bent back when on site. If there are any particularly loose, wobbly or precarious flowers I may remove that particular stem for transport.

7. Be proud!

Don’t forget to stand back and admire your work. And the more you do it the more confident you will become!

Sugar flower wedding cake

I hope anyone struggling with their sugar flower arranging skills finds these tips somewhat useful. If you would like to see some more of my sugar flower arrangements please browse my portfolio.

Happy arranging!

Suzanne, x